The Two Main Divisions in the Book of Isaiah
SECTION 1: Isaiah 1-39
1 ) Prophecies centered around Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah
1:1-12:6). Included in this section are a description of the
glories of the Messianic Age (Isaiah 2-4 ) and the account
of the call of Isaiah (Isaiah 6 ). In Isaiah 7-12, although
Isaiah is dealing primarily with various invasions which
threaten Judah, reference is made to the wonderful child
"Immanuel" and to the glorious age when a king of the
Davidic line would institute a benevolent rule over a world
without discord and wars.
2 ) Prophecies of judgment on the foreign and hostile
nations of Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia,
Egypt, Dumah, Arabia and Tyre (Isaiah 3-23 ).
3 ) The Apocalypse of Isaiah: the judgment of God against
the world's sin and the ultimate destruction of the earth
(Isaiah 24-27). Despite the dreadful nature of the
punishment which was to come, this section is marked by a
note of triumph and trust (see Isaiah 26).
4) Prophecies concerning the relations of Judah and
Jerusalem to Egypt and Assyria (Isaiah 28-33). In this
section is contained a series of six messages of woe,
directed first against one and then another of the
weaknesses of Judah's national life (Isaiah 28:1-29; 29:1-
14; 29:15-24; 30:1-17; 31:1- 32 : 20; 33 : 1-24). The
character of the Messianic Age is also further described
5 ) The doom of Edom and the redemption of Israel (Isaiah
34-35). Isaiah 35 is a beautiful picture of the ultimate
triumph of the spiritual Zion.
6 ) The reign of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-39 ). This section is
in the nature of an historical appendix recording the
overthrow of the Assyrian army (Isaiah 36- 37), Hezekiah's
sickness and recovery (Isaiah 38), and containing a prophecy
of the Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 39 ).
SECTION II: Isaiah 40-66
7 ) God's sovereign and providential control over history,
which will be manifest in his ultimate overthrow of Babylon
at the hands of Cyrus (Isaiah 40:18). Two passages of
especial interest in this section are the first "suffering
servant" passage, apparently alluding to the office of the
Messiah (Isaiah 42:1-9), and Isaiah's sarcastic appraisal of
the folly of idol worship (Isaiah 44:6-23).
8 ) The redemption which is possible through suffering and
sacrifice (Isaiah 49-55).. This division centers mainly
around the three "suffering servant" passages which it
contains The first is concerned with the difficulty of his
task and his rejection by those to whom he is sent (Isaiah
44:1-13). The second (Isaiah 50:4-9) speaks of the obedience
and trust of the "servant" and the blessings which are to
follow his work. The third is the classic passage from
Isaiah 52:13-53:12, which describes the life, suffering and
ultimate triumph of the servant.
9 ) The triumph of the kingdom of God and God's universal
reign (Isaiah 56-66). The sins which are prevalent in
Isaiah's day are discussed in chs. 56-59. A glorious song of
the Messianic Age fills Isaiah 60-62. The book closes, with
a prayer for mercy and pardon (Isaiah 63-64) and God's
answer to this prayer in the form of the promise of a new
heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65-66).